LOS ANGELES, Jan 7. 1999 (Reuters)
Psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West, an expert on cults,
torture and brainwashing who examined Jack Ruby and
Patricia Hearst during their trials, has died at age 74,
associates said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the University of California at Los Angeles, where West
was in charge of the Neuropsychiatric Institute for 20
years before his retirement in 1989, said he died on
Saturday of cancer at his home in Los Angeles.
West frequently worked as a court-appointed
psychiatrist. After examining Ruby, the killer of
President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald,
West concluded Ruby was suffering from ``major mental
illness precipitated by the stress of (his) trial.''
The psychiatrist was also one of four experts who
examined newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, who was
kidnapped by the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army
and who later joined its ranks as a bank robber.
The panel found her sane and fit to stand trial, but
West wrote that she was "psychologically damaged as a
result of torture by the SLA.''
The experts also urged that Hearst receive treatment
for her mental illness before her 1976 trial, but the
court ignored the recommendation.
"The government finished the destruction of her life
started by an anti-government group,'' West said after
Hearst was convicted. Her prison sentence was commuted
by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
A civil rights activist, West was the first white
psychiatrist to go to South Africa to testify on behalf
of black prisoners during the apartheid era.
During the Korean War he studied brainwashing and
torture. He said at the time that American prisoners of
war had falsely confessed to engaging in germ warfare
because their captors had instilled a sense of guilt in
them through solitary confinement, prolonged
sleeplessness and physical abuse, which he called the
classic tools of brainwashing.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, West said
the behaviour of cult members and kidnapping victims was
driven by the ``three 'Ds' - debility, dread and
"A prisoner is debilitated by inactivity, by sleep
loss, or worse, by physical harm. He is filled with
dread by constant threats of pain or death or harm to
his family. He is rendered completely dependent upon his
captors for information, food, shelter, life,'' West
West, who was born the son of poor Russian Jewish
immigrants in Madison, Wisconsin, is survived by his
wife Kathryn, son John and daughters Anne and Mary.